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Extreme Review for Extreme Project Management
by Shaun Ajani

 
   
 
   

One of the problems faced by managers when reviewing employee performance is the fairness and objectivity of the review. I strongly believe that the employer should be able to decide and set its own standards for the review, even if it appears 'too harsh' or 'too high' to the general public, as long as it is ethical and reasonable.

I see a different problem however. I see the problem from the perspective of the employee being reviewed. The reason is that often we forget the big picture, that is, the good of the company. If the employee feels threatened or unfairly judged, the employee's performance will suffer, and the company's performance will suffer. It all boils down to one thing - the employee must be happy. This is particularly true if the manager is a consultant with a staff primarily made up of client employees.

The answer to this problem is to review the employee in the employee's environment. The answer is called RABOHA (Review and Appraisal Based on Human Attributes). The manager must observe the employee, then act upon that observation by giving certain advice to the employee, or take action to change the environment. Here is the story of RABOHA, followed by a comprehensive interactive review process.

RABOHA
Several years ago when I was involved with a project in a desert town in West Texas, I had the opportunity to get to know a few of my employees outside of the work environment. I was able to conduct a study, which five years later ultimately gave birth to RABOHA. I recognize that my method was quite intuitive and somewhat unempirical, but I wish to share the chain of events so you may have an appreciation of the motivation of developing RABOHA.

I had noticed that although the employees had a certain professional disposition at work, they fundamentally kept the same emotional character throughout the day. For example, if employee X was typically happy during the off work hours, then he was frequently happy during the work hours. And if employee Y was mostly irritable and grumpy during the off work hours, then she was generally irritable and grumpy during the work hours.

At this stage, I was reflecting on two abstractions:

1- Just because they appear to be happy didn't necessarily mean that they were happy.

2- If they were happy, did they work better?

I was therefore, trying to get a handle on some basic attributes of human emotions, and their subsequent effects and possible manipulation of those attributes for better production. Well, from informal observations, and years of experience, I can unequivocally tell you that a happy worker is the best worker.

Having established that rationale, the next reasonable phase was to determine when the workers were happy. I then developed HES (Human Emotive Scale). HES was simply a scale of 0 to 10. The subjects had to mark on the scale every half-hour, recording their emotional status - 0 being extreme depression, and 10 being tremendously happy. To my surprise, out of the ten employees I had picked, all of them were around 3 or 4, 90% of the time.

After the above experiment, I realized that instead of going in each employee's life and attempting to 'change' them to be 'happy' employees, perhaps I could develop a methodology to conduct reviews and make specific recommendations to improve performance and to increase overall production.

After 60 more months of gathering data and observing humans in industries like Aviation, Biologics, Finance, Retail, and Education, I came up with RABOHA. RABOHA is a very uncomplicated review process where a manager can select the attributes relating to a particular employee and then refer to a corresponding 'action paragraph' and apply that recommendation. Selecting several attributes from the worksheet and matching them with the corresponding 'action paragraph' can form a full Appraisal/Review Report.

Review Report Worksheet (Feedback on Positive and Negative Attributes Selected)

Attribute - OFFERS NEW IDEAS:
Let the employee see the big picture. Often the employee may see a 'better' or 'quicker' way of doing things. However, in the big picture, with the new idea introduced, all the components may not work together as well. Keep a very open mind when the employee suggests an idea and consider the possibility of changing a 'certain' way of doing things.

Attribute - FUNCTIONS INDEPENDENTLY:
The employee must see the team's objectives clearly, so as not to trample on the end results. Very carefully keep tabs on the goals articulated by the employee; they must be directly aligned with that of the company. Evaluate the employee's given tasks. Ensure that those tasks are met reasonably by the employee and are not compromised by the employee's independent actions. If the employee's duties are met, then give the employee more responsibility.

Attribute - LACKS INITIATIVE:
Let the employee feel free to suggest new ideas and take action on them, as the present way may not be the best fit in the process. The employee actually may possess some unique quality that can be beneficial to the company. Introduce the employee to key players in the team so that they may influence the employee. Expose the employee to customers. When asked for advice, delay in giving it, and let the employee come up with a solution.

Attribute - NOT WILLING TO TAKE RISKS:
Give the employee an opportunity to work on a small project where the end result does not constitute a great degree of significance. Let the employee be aware that wrong or inappropriate decisions will be permissible. Stress the company mission, and how certain decisions will have to be made to accomplish these objectives. When a change is noticed in the employee's behavior, make sure proper reward is given, even if it is in the form of encouraging words.

Attribute - VERY PRODUCTIVE:
The employee must give precedence to the tasks that have priority, in line with the company goals. Reorganize and overhaul the job requirements of the employee if needed, but ensure that the employee keeps the edge on being productive. At the same time the employee must concentrate on the business that matters most. Do not allow the employee to work in isolation; let the team share in the richness of productivity.

Attribute - USES TIME EFFICIENTLY AND EFFECTIVELY:
Reevaluate the employee's schedule carefully. Appraise and estimate the major tasks the employee has completed in the past two to four weeks. You have to ensure that the efficiency that is being modeled is actually work that deserves the time and attention that the employee has been giving it. Give the employee a particularly difficult task and thoughtfully analyze the time spent on it. This will give you a good idea of the employee's true potential.

Attribute - NOT ORGANIZED:
Start from the basics. Have the employee clean the work area of all loose papers and out of date work. Next, ensure that the employee is using all the computer resources in an optimal way. If the employee is not a high tech employee, train the employee on the operating system of the desktop. Reduce paper by storing and backing up everything that can be stored electronically. Carefully keep track of the employee's path of productivity on a daily basis, that is, in what order the employee accomplishes the tasks on an hour-to-hour basis.

Attribute - PROCASTINATES:
Help the employee prioritize the workday. The employee must spend the first ten minutes of the day making a list of things to be done, arranged in order of importance. Ensure that the employee has a precise deadline for all the tasks. When these deadlines are met, reward the employee. Make the employee aware that an effort is being made to overcome procrastination.

Attribute - HAS DIFFICULTY PRIORITIZING:
The employee must work out of a deadline-based system. Keep all tasks on the list in view at all times, and ensure that the employee does not pick the tasks that are based on interest, or what the employee feels is of particular importance for whatever reason. Help the employee identify which tasks are applicable to the company goals and objectives. The employee must keep in touch with other members of the team to ensure that the objectives and priorities are aligned.

Attribute - UNDERSTANDS CUSTOMER NEEDS:
Use the employee's understanding of the customer needs to reevaluate company wide customer service policies. If needed, revise these policies. The employee must be given a leadership role in the group to further expand the understanding of the rest of the employees and to serve as a role model for the other members of the group. Develop training classes based on these new findings and assign this employee to play a key role in designing the course.

Attribute - GOOD DISPOSITION TOWARD CUSTOMERS:
Use the employee's disposition toward customers to further enhance the total customer satisfaction package. Identify what motivated the employee and disseminate this intelligence to others. Organize training sessions if possible, to fulfill this objective.

Attribute - PROMPTLY RESPONDS TO CUSTOMERS:
Ensure that the employee is pragmatic and honest regarding customer expectations. Monitor the employee's zeal to satisfy the customer and ensure it does not take precedence over the company's ability to provide realistic service. Have recent delivery schedules always available to the employee. Have appropriate rewards ready for the employee for meeting customer needs and for providing exceptional customer service. Grant this employee enough authority to carry out tactical decisions for customer service issues.

Attribute - UNCLEAR ON CUSTOMER NEEDS:
Quiz this employee on customer needs and requirements. Keep a tab on the depth of ambiguousness and vagueness this employee displays. Document the level of understanding that the employee has of the current customer needs. Send this employee to training classes to reacquaint with the customer's needs. If all fails, remove this employee from any position that might affect the customer relation adversely.

Attribute - UNRESPONSIVE TO CUSTOMERS
If this employee displays the attribute of being unclear on the customer needs, follow the advice below. However, if the employee is truly unresponsive to customers, only a thorough training on customer satisfaction can solve this problem. As customer service is crucial to any business, have a specific deadline to correct this problem. Be prepared to remove this employee from all customer contacts.

Attribute - UNCLEAR ON CUSTOMER NEEDS
Quiz this employee on customer needs and requirements. Keep a tab on the depth of ambiguousness and vagueness this employee displays. Send this employee to training classes to reacquaint with the customer's needs. If all fails, remove this employee from any position that might affect the customer relation adversely.

Attribute - INTERACTS EFFECTIVELY WITH CO-WORKERS
Let this employee work on many different tasks. Let the employee interact and constantly communicate with other employees. Use this employee as a catalyst to improve communication in the whole organization. Ensure that this employee is clear on company goals, as this employee's vision and value will likely transfer to other employees.

Attribute - PROVIDES ACCURATE REPORTS
Occasionally double check the accuracy of this employee, do not assume that the reports will always be accurate. Besides accuracy, verify that all the important material is included in the reports. If all works out fine, push this employee a little. Assign this employee more work that involves reports. Have this employee report to managers who make significant decisions in the organization.

Attribute - COMMUNICATES WELL
Have this employee attend meetings and other gatherings that include key leaders from the organization and customers. Ensure that this employee has all the proper information and the knowledge to interact in this capacity. Instruct this employee to avert from using too much technical jargon. Train this employee for public speaking and consider expanding the job assignment to include public and customer relations.

Attribute - POOR LISTENER
Observe the employee during a conversation for signs of acknowledgement. If the employee indicates that the information is not being adequately absorbed, ask occasional questions. Ask questions constantly, if a reasonable answer is not given, confront the employee. Help the employee along by assigning books and other training material to improve their listening skills.. Explain to the employee that the job may depend on the employee being more attentive.

Attribute - DOES NOT HAVE A PRESENTABLE APPEARANCE
Determine what makes this employee not have a presentable appearance. Focus on the employee's attitude, demeanor, body language, and clothes. Inform the employee about the company's dress code. If no written policy on dress code exists, provide an example of a co-worker with presentable appearance. Don't single one employee out. Make sure an even standard is observed.

Attribute - UNABLE TO EXPRESS IDEAS
Advise this employee to study the audience, before expressing the ideas. Assist the employee in preparing detailed outlines, for reports and other similar tasks. Offer guidance relating to the use of appropriate rhetoric. Instruct the employee to be as straightforward and direct as possible. Knowledge transfer is important. If this employee continues to have problems with expressing ideas, reassign the employee.

Attribute - WORKS WELL IN A GROUP ENVIRONMENT
Assign this employee a mediator's role during team conflicts. Let the employee communicate candidly with team members. Remind the employee to be impartial and fair in these meetings. Suggest to the team how well they work together, when this employee is present. Encourage other divisions of the organization to apply the employee's skill for their benefit.

Attribute - WORKS TOWARDS COMPANY GOALS
Assign this employee a mediator's role during team conflicts. Ensure that the goals are strategic in nature, as well as tactical. Let the essence of goal setting carry through in the team environment. Scrutinize the goals to ensure that they are distinct and obtainable Periodically review the goals to ensure that they are in-line with the overall goals and vision of the company. Ask for input, when there are organizational changes made that affect the team's previous goals.

Attribute - ABLE TO RESOLVE INTERPERSONAL DISCORD
Have this employee remain objective and unbiased at all times. Examine the motives behind the employee's disposition for the interpersonal skills. Ensure that the ultimate intent and motive for this social grace is not personal in nature. Have the employee mingle and blend in different groups. Allow the employee to play a key role in all meetings and gatherings.

Attribute - FINDS FAULTS IN TEAM MEMBERS
Help the employee understand that the team is working to accomplish the same objectives and goals. Observe the employee for signs of frustration, when dealing with other employees. Examine the background of the employee carefully, to check for any signs of violence in the work environment in the past. If the employee's temperament varies from finding faults to outright verbal criticism, consider sending the employee to sensitivity training.

Attribute - DOES NOT SHARE INFORMATION
After each meeting, interrogate the employee to determine what type of information was disseminated. Inquire whether the employee shared the ideas with every pertinent team member. The notion here is to make the employee perceive and understand that it is mutually advantageous to exchange vital information. Illustrate to the employee the undeviating correlation between the success of the team, and the success of the employee.

Attribute - ADAPTS TO CHANGES
Encourage the employee by elucidating the value of being able to change with the environment. Demonstrate the contribution the employee is making by being able to change. Further encourage the employee to be proactive in the change. Although being adaptive is commendable, ensure that the employee does not just move forward, without any regard to the satisfactory fulfillment of former assignments. Verify that tasks assigned to the employee are fully completed.

Attribute - OPEN TO NEW IDEAS
This employee needs all the support you can give, as long as the ideas are received and ultimately acted upon for the benefit of the organization. Monitor the ideas being fed into this employee to ensure that they are not detrimental to company goals. Help the employee generate new ideas, instead of just acting upon new ideas being furnished. Assist the employee in being open to all ideas, not just the ones that meet certain employee-defined guidelines.

Attribute - PROACTIVE
Keep track of this employee for at least a few weeks to shadow the effects of the actions taken. Look for scenarios to catch potential problems. Inform the employee to have contingency plans handy, in case of failure of the original plan. Being proactive has its pitfalls; a lot more action items are created, and ultimately acted upon. Assign this employee tasks dealing with customer issues, especially those issues that have suffered from dullness and inaction in the past. Delegate more responsibility to this employee. Quickly promote to bestow more power and authority, so the employee can make the proactive characteristic work more practically and efficiently.

Attribute - DOES NOT ADAPT WITHOUT SUPERVISION
Ask the employee to take ownership of the problem often. Inform the employee that accountability and responsibility will be of significance. Assign the employee substantially difficult tasks, and do not make yourself available that often, for a few weeks. Notice signs of confidence evolving in the employee. Build confidence by conferring with the employee's immediate supervisor to employ similar means of confidence building techniques.

Attribute - UNWILLING TO TAKE ON VARYING WORK ASSIGNMENT
Inform the employee on the importance of the tasks by giving evidence of the importance of the assignment in the scheme of things. Make the task more engaging to the employee. Probe into the reason behind the apprehensiveness of the employee to embrace varying work assignments. Structure the task to be a little easier, or respite it down to a manageable size. Acquaint the employee, in a non-threatening manner, with the responsibilities and accountability of his duties. Make evident to the employee how the work assignment will ultimately affect the project.

Attribute - MANAGES FAIRLY
Examine the management style to make sure that it is indeed fair, and just does not appear to be so. At times, when the managers are biased toward the popular employees, the perception can be a little skewed. Have the employee take a management test, if one is available, and then quiz the employee on the issues at stake. Ensure that the employee is very clear on the different issues and their priorities that the team is facing. Give more responsibilities to his team members. Determine the PODC (point of diminishing competency) for this manager, and the group as a whole. See how far this group can be pushed, before evidence of a burn out is experienced. If the employees view this employee as a fair manager, they will undoubtedly have a good PODC.

Attribute - HAS CLARITY IN VISION AND FOCUS
Take this employee's ideas and sculpture it to fit the organization's needs. When the employee suggests an idea, assist the employee in removing bureaucratic obstacles. Refine and clarify the vision to meet company goals and objectives. Seek the employee's input in all significant affairs. Promote this employee to a position where more strategic initiative is needed.

Attribute - JUDGEMENT IS SOMETIMES BIASED
Study and recognize the reason behind the bias. If it is related to quality, performance, or other legitimate reason, work with the employee to refine the methods. Otherwise clarify the employee's role to reflect the seriousness of this shortcoming. Ensure that all your values are in order, as well. Check all the other team members and close associates of this employee to ensure that their judgment and focus is acceptable to company standards.

Attribute - DOES NOT CHALLENGE DIFFICULT ISSUES
Ask the employee to seek the team members' help in making key decisions, with respect to difficult issues, regardless of the complexity. Slowly build the employee's confidence to make the decisions independently. Assign the responsibility of this task clearly to the employee. Stay out of the issue as much as possible. Offer your help to the employee only as a last resort. Once a difficult issue is handled, support the decision attained by the employee.

Attribute - WILLING TO LEARN NEW TECHNOLOGY AND GAIN KNOWLEDGE
Ensure that the employee is acquiring knowledge, which can be directly used for the company's benefit. . Ask the employee to make a list of skills, which might need improvement. Make training time available. Draw up a long-term plan with the employee. Give the training some direction, as to how it will ultimately benefit the organization. Impress upon the employee the personal benefits to be gained by advancing oneself in technology and knowledge.

Attribute - CONSCIENTIOUS AND ETHICAL
Assist and encourage this employee in transmitting these qualities to as many employees as possible. Monitor the stability of these merits, and if found to be consistent, move the employee around in different groups and teams. Nourish this belief system even further by rewarding this employee often. Seek this employee's advice, before implementing new policies and procedures. Acquire this employee's assistance in making decisions in issues dealing with ethical problems.

Attribute - HAS TROUBLE WITH TIME MANAGEMENT
Keep a detailed log of every task performed by this employee. Include in the log any deviation from the accepted arrival time in the office. Verify whether the employee is simply taking too much on, or is truly having trouble managing time. In the former case, assist the employee in delegating authority. If needed, secure an assistant for the employee. If the employee is constantly underestimating the time for task completion, investigate the reasons behind it. Ensure that the employee is getting accurate information from the regular sources.

Attribute - GETS INVOLVED WITH OFFICE CHATTER AND GOSSIP
Notice carefully how much time productiveness is being wasted by these undesirable qualities. Observe, but leave the employee alone, if the effect on the company is inconsequential. However, if these habits prove to be a problem, explain to this employee the consequences of being sidetracked and time wastage. Nothing brings the morale down in employees than hearing worthless and futile gossip. Clarify and control any misinformation already spread. However, be realistic in implementing any plans to remedy this situation.



     
   
     
   

The Author

 

Shaun Ajani is an internationally published author of many books and articles, including, "If You Row, You Will Not Drift - Perfect Life Management - The Life Wizard", "Extreme Project Management", and "How Real is Your Soul?". He has worked with aviation, IT, retail, HR, finance, education, and training industries, in companies such as Motorola, Dollar Stores, Nation Gifts, Code Factory, Washington Mutual, Boise Cascade, Sears, and Spherion. visit http://www.ajani.com for additional information.

     
   
     
   
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Copyright 2001 by Shaun Ajani. All rights reserved.

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